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Privacy and Data Protection

Southern Grampians Shire Council believes that the responsible handling of personal and health information is a key aspect of democratic governance, and is strongly committed to protecting an individual's right to privacy. Accordingly, Council is committed to full compliance with its obligations under the Privacy and Data Protection Act 2014 (Vic) (Privacy Act) and the Health Records Act 2001 (Vic) (Health Act). In particular, Council will comply with the Information Privacy Principles and the Health Privacy Principles contained in these Acts. This Privacy Policy explains some of these Principles and how they will apply.

What is Personal and Health Information?

This Policy applies to both personal and health information held by the Southern Grampians Shire.

Personal Information means information or an opinion, whether true or not, and however recorded in any form, about an individual whose identity is apparent, or can reasonably be ascertained, from the information or opinion.

For example, Southern Grampians Shire holds personal information about its ratepayers (e.g. names and addresses) in order to carry out its functions (e.g. planning, valuation and property services). It may also request personal information in order to provide education, welfare and other community services (e.g. home-care services). In some instances, personal information may be contained on a public register (register of building permits, food premises and animal registration details).

Health Information is broadly defined to include information or an opinion about the physical, mental or psychological health of an individual, a disability, an individual's expressed wishes for future provision of health services or any health service provided to an individual, or other information collected to provide or in providing a health service.

For example, Southern Grampians Shire holds health information on the recipients of immunisations in order for the Medical Officers of Health and the Environmental Health Officers to provide a personalised service to the recipient. It may also request health information in order to provide community service needs (e.g. home and community care services).

Some personal information may also be "sensitive information" as defined in the Privacy Act. Sensitive information includes information like an individual's racial or ethnic origin, political views, religious beliefs, sexual preferences, membership of groups or criminal record.

What information will Southern Grampians Shire collect?

Southern Grampians Shire will only collect personal and health information that is necessary for its functions and activities and in doing so will use lawful and fair means. Southern Grampians Shire will only collect sensitive information where consent has been given or otherwise as permitted by law.

If it is reasonable and practicable to do so, Council will collect personal and health information direct from the individual. When doing so, Council will inform the individual of the purpose/s for which the information is collected. If Council collects personal and health information about an individual from someone else, it will take reasonable steps to make the individual aware of these matters.

Individuals will have the option of not identifying themselves when supplying information or entering into transactions with Council wherever it is lawful and practicable.

How will the information be used?

Council will only use or disclose personal and health information for the purpose for which it was collected. Council Staff will treat personal and health information confidentially. If Council needs to share information for any other purpose than for which it was collected, agreement will be sought before doing so (unless otherwise required by law).

How will information remain secure?

Council will maintain secure systems for storing personal and health information. Council will also maintain operational policies and procedures to protect personal and health information from misuse and loss and from unauthorised modification or disclosure. Council will destroy or de-identify personal and health information if it is no longer needed for any purpose or as required by law.

What rights do individuals have to access or correct information?

Individuals have a right to seek access to their personal and health information and make corrections. Access and correction will be handled under the Victorian Freedom of Information Act. Some limits may apply where particular circumstances prevent Council from releasing information. If any limits apply this will be explained.

If personal and health information is inaccurate, incomplete, misleading or out of date, the individual may request Council to correct this information. Personal and health information cannot be removed from records, but a correcting statement may be added.

Requests for access and/or correction of personal and health information should be made to Council's Privacy Officers.

What if third party contractors provide Council services?

Council does outsource some of its functions to third party contractors. All third party contractors will be required to comply with the Acts in all respects.

How does Council handle complaints?

Council's Privacy Officers will handle complaints in relation to privacy and confidentiality. Complaints will be investigated and a written response will be provided as soon as possible (but no later than 45 days).

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